Browsed by
Category: Neck Pain

Overcome the Fear of Movement After Auto Injury!

Overcome the Fear of Movement After Auto Injury!

Imagine what happens when you injure your neck in an auto injury…

Your muscles contract, there’s a burst of pain, and a soreness that makes you want to avoid moving your neck too much or turning too far. You may worry about re-injuring yourself or you may think, “I could do more harm than good by moving my neck.” Unfortunately, not moving your neck after an auto injury can actually be worse for your recovery, especially for people after a car accident.

A new study examined the effects of fear of movement on neck disability and range of motion in 98 patients after a car crash!

While the patients’ injuries ranged in severity, all of the patients had pain for under a month and all were injured in an auto collision. Researchers measured patients’ levels of fear using two different scales. They also examined neck range of motion and degree of neck disability. Patients were evaluated after one, three, and six months after the injury.

Patients who were more afraid to move their neck had more severe neck disability and reduced range of motion. Increased fear also prolonged the symptoms. In contrast, patients with lower levels of fear were more likely recover before the six month follow up.

Maintaining movement after an injury does more than just reduce anxiety. It also ensures that tissues don’t become more tense, restricted or damaged. Chiropractic can help you with recovery, because chiropractic works by restoring the normal movement and function of your neck and back.

Conclusion

If you’ve been in a car crash, don’t wait to get treatment. It’s important to get your spine moving again as soon as possible! Chiropractic can help you on the path to recovery!

Article shared from the following website: https://www.chironexus.net/2017/10/fear-movement-after-auto-injury/

How to Avoid Text Neck

How to Avoid Text Neck

Tips to Avoid "Text Neck"In this age of mobile devices and smartphones, more and more patients are being diagnosed with neck pain associated with looking down at a screen. Studies have shown that young people are at increased risk of back and neck pain due to overuse of devices. Now, a new condition, dubbed “text neck,” is being found in smartphone-users of all ages, resulting in serious stiffness, strain, and pain in the neck muscles and cervical spine.Americans send an average of around 2.19 trillion text messages every year, meaning that text neck has the potential of afflicting millions of people.

The condition is relatively new, and as Forbes reports in their article, How Texting Can Give You a Permanent Pain in the Neck, “It takes time…for a new condition to spread throughout the medical community. Some doctors who have never heard of text neck don’t think to ask patients with neck pain about their phone or computer habits.”

However, investigators of worker’s compensation claims are at the point that they look into the phone records of claimants with neck pain, and sometimes use their history of text messaging to get their compensation cases dismissed, attributing the neck pain to personal screen time rather than work.

There is no denying that a great number of people consider smartphones to be indispensable. And this overuse is causing what could be an epidemic of health problems into the future. A study published in the journal Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback found that an overwhelming majority of 83% of participants reported some hand and neck pain during texting. Researchers in this study also found that people sending texts displayed other classic signs of tension, such as increased heart rates and holding their breath. Even when they said they were relaxed, they had signs of tension.

If you text or play games on your smartphone, you know that it is easy to get into the habit of holding your head forward-and-down while typing on it. Another study conducted at the Center for Musculoskeletal Research found that 90% of people flexed their necks while texting, defined as bending the neck forward over 10 degrees past neutral alignment. In this study, it was discovered that the more texting that participants did, the worse their risk of neck or shoulder pain.

Especially susceptible to text neck are those of us who not only spend some of our leisure time on smartphones, but also spend much of our working time sitting at computers. All these hours spent in a flexed posture can add up to 30 pounds of extra weight on the upper vertebrae, straining the trapezius muscles and pulling the spine out of alignment over time.

Researchers are also finding that people over age 50 are more at risk of developing text neck. According to physical therapist Rob Worth, in an interview with Forbes, “People in their 50s and 60s have less tissue tolerance. Overuse injuries (like text neck) don’t heal as quickly.”

However, Worth said that young people are also at risk of permanent problems from text neck. He suggested that the stooped posture while typing on phones may freeze the position of the spine’s alignment, and years down the road, we may see people who are permanently stooped because of it.

If you suspect you have text neck, talk to your health-care provider. Your chiropractor or physical therapist can help you determine if you’re suffering from this ailment. These experts can also help design a treatment plan to relieve pain and regain range of motion, as well as advise you about preventing future injury. The following tips, summarized from the Forbes article, may help you avoid the risks of text neck:

  1. Hold your phone at a proper reading angle, rather than looking down. Your phone should be held directly in front of your mouth, a few inches across from your chin. Your eyes should look down rather than having to bend your neck down. Your shoulders should feel relaxed while you’re typing.
  2. Use a text-dictation program if you have one. Hold the phone in front of your mouth.
  3. Set a timer and take breaks. Avoid prolonged phone use by taking regular breaks where you put your phone down and do something else.
  4. Build strength and range of motion. In your workout routine, include exercises and stretches that strengthen your neck, back extensors, rhomboids, and latissimus dorsi muscles.
  5. Drink water and maintain hydration.
  6. Use other forms of communication. Try calling your family and friends or seeing them in person to chat.

When you have a case of text neck, be sure to come in and get your adjustment from Dr. Oblander. Don’t allow your neck issues to create lingering problems for you!

References

Quilter D. How texting can give you a permanent pain in the neck. Forbes June 7, 2013. www.forbes.com.

Lin IM, Peper E. Psychophysicological patterns during cell phone text messaging: a preliminary study. Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback March 2009; 34(1): 53-57.

Gold JE, Griban JB, et al. Postures, typing strategies, and gender differences in mobile device usage: an observational study. Applied Ergonomics March 2012; 43(2): 408-412.

Peper E. Improve health with fun movements: practices you can do at home and at work. The Peper Perspective blog; February 2, 2013.

Article shared from www.chironexus.net
Neck Pain Causes

Neck Pain Causes

Cervical spine disorders.
Most Common Neck Pain Causes: Strains and Sprains

The most common causes of neck pain—strains and sprains—heal within a few days or weeks. A strain is when a muscle or tendon has been irritated by overuse or overextension. Similarly, a sprain is when a ligament has been irritated by overuse or overextension.

Common causes of neck strains and sprains include:

    • Sleeping in wrong position. Often referred to as a “crick” in the neck, a person might wake up in the morning with neck pain due to sleeping in an awkward or atypical position that overextended the neck.
    • Sports injury. A person could move the neck suddenly and/or in an unusual way in a new sport, or a player could have a collision or fall. A common sports collision injury is a stinger, which happens when nerves in the neck/shoulder are impacted and pain, numbness, and weakness can radiate down the shoulder, arm, and hand.
    • Poor posture. Whether it’s at work, home, and/or commuting, poor posture can lead to neck problems. If a person’s head is often tilted forward for long periods of time, then the neck’s muscles, tendons, and ligaments need to work harder. Poor posture can be problematic during any number of activities, including working at a computer, watching TV, riding the train, reading a book, gardening, and more. Text neck, for example, is an increasingly common problem that develops in anyone who spends hours looking down at the phone while texting.
    • Repetitive motions. Turning the head in a repetitive manner, such as side to side while dancing or swimming, may lead to overuse of the neck’s muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
    • Holding the head in unusual position. Anything that requires holding the head in an unusual way for long periods of time could cause neck strains and sprains. Some examples include having a long conversation while cradling a phone between the head and shoulder, or spending an afternoon looking up at an air show.
    • Whiplash. In a whiplash injury, the head and neck are forced suddenly backward and immediately forward with a great deal of force. The soft tissues along and near the cervical spine can be torn or ruptured as a result. This type of injury commonly occurs in an auto accident that involves a rear-end collision.

Causes of Chronic Neck Pain

Neck pain is considered chronic when it persists for more than 3 months. These conditions tend to stem from problems in the cervical spine either with a facet joint or disc. Common causes include:

  • Cervical degenerative disc disease.
    Everyone experiences wear and tear on the cervical spine over time. It’s natural for the discs to gradually lose hydration and the ability to cushion the spine’s vertebrae. If a disc degenerates enough, it can lead to painful irritation of a cervical nerve in various ways, such as a herniated disc, pinched nerve, or changes in the facet joints that can cause arthritis.
  • Cervical herniated disc A cervical disc is herniated when its jelly-like inner layer, the nucleus pulposus, leaks out through a tear in the disc’s protective outer layer. This could result from an injury or aging. A herniated disc may press against or pinch a cervical nerve, or the inflammatory proteins of the nucleus pulposus may come close enough to a nerve to cause irritation.
  • Cervical osteoarthritis
    When the cartilage in a cervical facet joint wears down enough, it can lead to cervical osteoarthritis, also known as cervical spondylosis. Rather than having the facet joints move smoothly along cartilage as intended, they might grind bone on bone. The joint could become enlarged from inflammation and bone spur growth, causing a nearby nerve to become pinched or pressed
  • Cervical spinal stenosis with myelopathy Spinal stenosis occurs when the spine’s degeneration leads to a narrowing of the spinal canal, such as from a herniated disc that pushes into the spinal canal or bone spurs that grow into the canal. When the spinal canal narrows enough to compress the spinal cord—a large bundle of nerves that runs inside the spinal canal—myelopathy can result. Myelopathy is when compression of the spinal cord starts causing symptoms, such as weakness or problems with coordination in the arms, hands, legs, or feet.
  • Cervical foraminal stenosis This condition occurs when the foramina—the holes in the vertebral construct through which nerve roots that branch off from the spinal cord can exit the spinal canal—become narrowed. This narrowing of the hole can cause irritation for the nerve root that runs through it. Foraminal stenosis is associated with radiating pains in a pattern specific to the nerve that is pinched by the narrowing. In some situations, there is a combination of the cervical stenosis causing myelopathy, as well as the specific nerve pattern associated with a cervical foramen being narrowed.

Other Causes of Neck Pain

While not the most common causes of acute or chronic neck pain, other causes of neck pain could include:

    • Emotional stress. Sometimes muscles in the neck can tighten up and ache in response to stress, anxiety, or depression.
    • Infection. If part of the cervical spine becomes infected, then inflammation could cause neck pain. One example would be meningitis.
    • Myofascial pain. This chronic condition has trigger points, which result from achy muscles and surrounding connective tissues, typically in the upper back or neck. Trigger points can be chronically painful or only painful to the touch. The pain might stay in one spot or it can be referred pain that spreads to/from another area in the body.
    • Fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia is hard to diagnose, but it typically involves pain in the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in several areas of the body, including in the neck.
    • Spinal tumor. A tumor, such as from cancer, could develop in the cervical spine and press against a nerve. These types of tumors more commonly occur as cancer that has started in another part of the body metastasizes.
    • Spondylolisthesis. This condition occurs when one vertebra slips over the one below it. It can be due to a tiny fracture in the vertebra, or possibly from advanced disc degeneration, or ligament laxity.
    • Ankylosing spondylitis. This progressive arthritis of the spine and pelvis can cause widespread inflammation, pain and stiffness throughout the spine, including the neck.

Risk Factors for Developing Neck Pain

Some research indicates that getting unhealthy amounts of sleep, being inactive, and smoking can all raise the risk of developing neck pain.2 In addition, working longer hours or being in a labor-intensive occupation, such as the military, health care support, or installation and maintenance, may increase the risk for neck pain.3

References

  1. Croft PR, Lewis M, Papageorgiou AC, et al. Risk factors for neck pain: a longitudinal study in the general population. Pain. 2001; 93(3):317-25.
  2. Yang, Haiou PhD; Haldeman, Scott DC, MD, PhD; Nakata, Akinori PhD; Choi, BongKyoo ScD, MPH; Delp, Linda PhD, MPH; Baker, Dean MD, MPH. Work-related risk factors for neck pain in the US working population. Spine. 2015. 40(3):184-192.
Chiropractic for Chronic Back Pain

Chiropractic for Chronic Back Pain

back-pain-office-200-300About a third of the millions of people who make appointments with chiropractors every year seek relief from back pain. Back pain can be acute, meaning it happens suddenly, lasts 6 weeks or less and often clears up on its own; or back pain can be chronic, meaning it comes on gradually and lasts 3 months or more. Chronic back pain can be particularly debilitating and can limit movement and mobility.

Traditional treatments for back pain include medication, physical therapy, surgery or steroid injections. While these treatments may provide symptomatic relief, they do not address the root cause of the pain. They can also be painful and expensive to carry out.

The foundation of chiropractic care for chronic back pain is the understanding that misaligned vertebrae can cause the pain. This misalignment can result in many additional problems, such as headaches, body pains and impaired joint mobility. Chiropractic treatment aims to restore alignment to the vertebrae, returning natural health to the spine and all the body parts the spinal nerves serve.

Chiropractors believe in the body’s natural ability to heal itself. Chiropractic care avoids medications and their possible side effects, and it also avoids surgery. As an example of the differences in treatment, surgeons may remove a herniated disk from the spine in order to relieve pressure on the nerves, while chiropractors use non-invasive spinal manipulation to achieve the same result.

Dr. Oblander can treat your chronic pain based on the vertebral misalignments found in your body. A quick, sudden force is applied to the appropriate vertebrae in order to restore the motion of the joint. Another common treatment for chronic pain is known as the flexion-distraction technique. This treatment involves a special table that stretches the spine. It is particularly effective in treating injuries to the discs that have been the cause of long-term back pain.

Chronic back pain will probably also require additional treatments such as massage, exercise, and perhaps physical therapy. A good chiropractor will work with other health professionals as needed to ensure you get the best possible treatment for your pain. He or she will also look at the entire picture of your life, including your diet, health habits, medical history, family history, and other conditions you may have. This approach is holistic and has a better chance of eliminating the root cause of your chronic back pain than traditional treatments that only work on the symptoms.

Every body is different. If you have questions about this article or whether chiropractic is an appropriate choice for your specific situation, please ask. We are here to help those in the greater Billings area!

 

Text Neck and More: How Our Electronic Devices Are Changing Our Posture

Text Neck and More: How Our Electronic Devices Are Changing Our Posture

woman-texting
woman-texting

The last 10 years have seen exceptional innovation in personal electronics. Our smartphones, laptops, and tablets have undoubtedly made it easier to create, consume and share all kinds of content as well as to shop online anywhere and anytime. But they do also have their drawbacks—including negative health consequences. This applies in particular to our posture. The overuse of personal electronic devices is taking a toll on our necks and backs, and this damage could lead to even more serious health issues down the road.

Some medical professionals are calling it the “iPosture Syndrome”. It’s a head-forward posture that many people (teenagers and younger kids included) are developing from hunching over electronic devices for long hours every day. As physiotherapist Carolyn Cassano explains, “If the head shifts in front of the shoulders, as is happening with this posture, the weight of the head increases, and the muscles of the upper back and neck need to work much harder to support it, leading to pain and muscle strain.”

According to CNN, “The average human head weighs 10 pounds in a neutral position—when your ears are over your shoulders. For every inch you tilt your head forward, the pressure on your spine doubles. So if you’re looking at a smartphone in your lap, your neck is holding up what feels like 20 or 30 pounds.” All that additional pressure puts a strain on your spine and can pull it out of alignment.

Also known as “text neck,” this head-forward posture is a fairly new development among younger adults, teenagers and children (some just beginning kindergarten) who are developing chronic neck and back pain as well as early signs of spine curvature. Coined by Dr. Dean Fishman, a chiropractor and founder of the Text Neck Institute in Florida, the phrase “text neck” is defined as an overuse syndrome involving the head, neck and shoulders, usually resulting from excessive strain on the spine from looking forward and downward at a portable electronic device over extended periods of time.

The text neck disorder is unfortunately progressive, meaning that it gets worse over time without treatment. “It can lead to degenerative disk disease which is irreversible, bone spurs start to grow, people get pinched nerves or herniated disks and that can lead to really intense pain,” says chiropractor Dr. Anthony Bang of the Cleveland Clinic.

The doctor explains that the neck should have a banana-like curve. However, people who consistently look down at handheld devices for hours daily are losing that normal curve, thereby developing straight necks. While severe neck problems can result from losing that curve, there are ways to avoid this fate.

“First of all, put it away, it can wait five minutes. Give your neck a break, but if you need to use it, take it and bring it up to eye level so that your head still stays on top of your shoulders instead of stooping down looking at your lap,” said Bang.

CNN also recommends that you “Be aware of your body. Keep your feet flat on the floor, roll your shoulders back and keep your ears directly over them so your head isn’t tilted forward. Use docking stations and wrist guards to support the weight of a mobile device. Buy a headset.”

Now there are even apps to help you with your texting posture. For example, the Text Neck Institute has developed an app that helps the user avoid hunching over. When your phone is held at a healthy viewing angle, a green light shines in the top left corner. When you’re slouching over and at risk for text neck, a red light appears.

 

Auto Accident Folklore—Being Thrown Clear and Bracing for Impact

Auto Accident Folklore—Being Thrown Clear and Bracing for Impact

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

You have no doubt overheard someone at work or at a party telling his friends that he never wears a seat belt—and that he has some really good reasons.  The story usually goes something like this:  He heard from a buddy he knows that a friend of a friend who was not wearing a seat belt had a bad car accident and walked away from it because he was thrown clear of the car.  This is one of the most pervasive car safety myths out there. And if you believe this myth, you could be setting yourself up for serious injury or death.

Although there are a small handful of cases in which someone has survived a car accident after being thrown from the car, this is a very rare occurrence.  In fact, you actually have a 25 percent greater chance of being killed if thrown from the car.  Just consider the physics of the situation.  The force applied to your body when a collision occurs can be strong enough to propel you 150 feet, which is equivalent to about 15 car lengths.  And you would not just be flying gracefully through the air either.  First, your body may go crashing through the windshield, it may scrape along the rough asphalt for yards, and then you could end up getting crushed by your own car or someone else’s.  This is not to mention the other objects you may be hurled into when flung from the car.  Statistics from a study performed by researchers at James Madison University show that the proper use of a seat belt reduces serious injuries from traffic accidents by 50 percent and fatalities by 60 to 70 percent.  It’s a simple thing that can protect your health and save your life—wear seat belts.

Another common myth is that bracing for impact causes more damage to your body, and that it’s best to remain relaxed.  Of course, actually having the ability to choose one way or another about bracing has a lot to do with how much time you have before impact.   Many accidents occur in the blink of an eye, so suggesting that someone should “stay relaxed” has really limited practical value.  However, the most current science indicates that if you have time, bracing for impact will likely reduce the amount of injury, particularly to tendons and ligaments.

One of the most common types of injury from an auto accident is whiplash, which occurs in about a third of all collisions.  If you see a car approaching in your rear view mirror that you believe is going to collide with yours, the best thing to do is to press your body against the seatback, with your head pressed firmly against the head rest. This way you are less likely to suffer injuries to the ligaments in your neck, as your head will not be slammed back against the head rest, then flung forward.

Auto accidents are never pleasant, but by knowing the facts about auto safety you can help reduce your chances of sustaining a serious injury.  If you do end up in an accident, it’s always a good idea to get a medical evaluation promptly, even if you think you haven’t suffered any significant injuries.  Many auto injuries take time for their symptoms to become apparent or significant enough for victims to recognize how badly they may have been hurt.  By the time the symptoms are obvious, the victim and his or her doctor may have lost a valuable opportunity to treat the underlying injuries.  Please call or visit the office if you or someone in your family has recently been involved in an auto accident.

What You Should Know About Recovering from Auto Injuries

What You Should Know About Recovering from Auto Injuries

ambulance-200-300America’s roads have become far safer across the past three decades.  By just about any measure, travelers are much less likely to be injured or killed in a motor vehicle accident than they were in the late 1980s and early 1990s. And this is true even though we’re driving more miles each year!

However, automobile accidents are still notoriously hard on the musculoskeletal system, and there is still a very real risk of back and neck injuries—even when drivers and passengers are protected by the latest safety equipment.  In fact, recent research suggests that some types of injuries—particularly to the thoracic and lumbar regions of the back—may actually be more likely when safety belts are used.  There is also some evidence that airbags may contribute to more severe neck injuries when they deploy.

At the same time, other developments are also changing the nature of auto injuries.  For instance:

  • Smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles are good for the environment, but they pose additional risks to their passengers when they collide with larger cars, SUVs and trucks.
  • Lifestyle and demographic trends are resulting in greater numbers of overweight and obese people on the roads as well as larger numbers of seniors, who tend to have frames that are smaller and more fragile.

So even though the overall fatality rate and the rate of serious injuries should continue to fall as safety systems continue to improve, minor to moderate injuries from auto accidents will continue to be a fact of life for the foreseeable future.

What You Need to Know

Even in cases where drivers and passengers walk away from a wreck believing they’re “uninjured”, accidents can have profound, long-lasting health consequences for those involved.  It’s not uncommon for some types of symptoms to appear only gradually days or weeks after the event itself, delaying effective diagnosis and treatment.  Symptoms may also come and go intermittently, making it more difficult to associate them with the accident.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to safeguard your health and improve your chances of a more rapid, complete recovery following an auto accident.  Clinical studies have demonstrated that chiropractic care can shorten recovery time and decrease the amount of permanent physical damage sustained in a collision.

  • Take care of first things first. Always address any life-threatening injuries first.  If you experience (or have reason to suspect) significant bleeding or bruising, broken bones, internal pain, difficulty breathing, loss of consciousness, or shock, you should seek immediate help from healthcare professionals who specialize in treating trauma injuries.
  • Visit your chiropractor as soon as possible after an accident. Do this even if you don’t think you’ve been hurt very badly. Research has shown that early intervention in the form of chiropractic adjustment, massage, laser therapy and supervised exercise and stretching programs can make a big difference in longer-term function.
  • Stay as active as you can throughout your recovery. Activity encourages blood flow to the injured area and promotes healing.  It also helps prevent or reduce scar tissue formation and maintain range of motion.
  • Strengthen the affected area(s) as directed. Exercise and stretching programs are designed to help prevent future injuries and are an important part of a balanced treatment plan.
  • Recognize that you may be at increased risk of developing chronic problems. Be sure to tell your doctor if any of the following warning signs apply:
  • A prior history of back, neck or shoulder problems (including previous injury).
  • Distinct numbness, tingling or pain immediately following an accident.
  • Increased muscle tension or reduced range of motion after the crash.
  • You were involved in a rear-end collision.
  • Your head was turned at the moment of impact.
  • You have symptoms that don’t resolve or that become generalized.
  • Do your best to avoid becoming frustrated with the pace of recovery. Setbacks are common and it is not unusual for some symptoms to come and go.

An auto accident can affect your health (and your lifestyle) for years if you don’t receive the proper treatment.  So if you or someone you care about has been injured in a collision, please call our office and make an appointment today.  Chiropractic care can help put your recovery in high gear!

What is a “Normal” Pain Tolerance?

What is a “Normal” Pain Tolerance?

man-in-pain-distorted
man-in-pain-distorted

Pain is a nearly universal human experience that has several aspects. The first thing we usually think about in relation to pain is its trigger or cause. Perhaps you stub your toe, cut your finger while chopping vegetables, or feel the beginnings of a headache coming on. When this kind of thing happens, your body initiates a physical process driven by your anatomy and physiology. Your senses transmit a message through your nerves to your brain, saying “Something is wrong.” The second aspect of pain, however, is psychological and emotional rather than physical—how do you react to the message that your body is experiencing trouble? Do you ignore the headache and continue with your activities, or do you have to stop what you’re doing and focus on the pain to try to make it go away?

When it comes to our response to pain, two factors are also in operation. These relate to the idea of sensitivity. Pain threshold is the point at which pain first begins to be felt, and pain tolerance is the point at which a person reaches the maximum level of pain they are able to tolerate. When attempting to define what “normal” responses to pain are, both factors must be examined.

“Normal” responses to pain are difficult to determine because they vary so widely.

Some people may react to a bad headache by ignoring it and continuing to work, while others may react to a headache they rate at the same subjective level of pain by becoming completely incapacitated and having to lay down and close their eyes until it goes away. So what factors determine these differences in people’s tolerance of pain, and what can we say about them?

First, there seem to be differences in pain tolerance between men and women, with men exhibiting slightly higher pain tolerance than women. But this generalization can be affected by the oddest things. For example:

  • Studies of dental patients suggest that redheads have lower pain tolerances than people with other hair colors, and actually need higher doses of anesthesia during oral surgery.
  • Athletes have been proven to have higher pain tolerances than people who don’t exercise.
  • People who smoke or are obese are more likely to have low pain tolerances.
  • People who are depressed or anxious are more sensitive to pain and have lower tolerances.

There are also biological factors such as genetics, previous spinal cord damage, and chronic diseases that cause nerve damage that affect how we perceive, interpret, and manage pain. So the problem of defining what constitutes a “normal” level of pain tolerance becomes very difficult. But we recognize intuitively that we’re beginning to approach our own pain tolerance when two things happen—first, the pain begins to interfere with our ability to function in some way and second, it causes us to seek help.

As healthcare professionals, we generally distinguish between acute pain—the pain that usually results from a specific injury or illness, lasts less than 6 months and goes away as the body heals—and chronic pain, which can persist or progress over longer periods of time and may have no clear cause.

Depending on the situation, help may come in the form of common over-the-counter analgesics like aspirin, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen, or from more powerful drugs like opioids. Sometimes it may come in the form of ice, heat or topical treatments. And other times it may come in the form of hands-on therapies like chiropractic and massage.

Whatever your level of pain tolerance happens to be, you can get better at handling pain.

Because of the many factors that can potentially affect pain tolerance, managing one’s pain can be a challenging process of trial and error. You can’t change your genetic pain receptors and how sensitive they are, and dying your hair another color if you’re a redhead isn’t going to make you less susceptible to pain. But there are coping mechanisms that can influence the brain’s perception of pain and help you manage it, effectively increasing your pain tolerance. Relaxation techniques, biofeedback, chiropractic manipulation, massage, and mindfulness meditation have all shown surprising success at enabling people who suffer from chronic pain to manage it more effectively without the ongoing use of drugs.

So if you are one of the 25% to 30% of adults living with musculoskeletal pain, contact our office and ask for help—it IS available, and doesn’t necessarily have to come in a pill bottle!

Top 5 Exercises for Increasing Range of Motion in Your Neck

Top 5 Exercises for Increasing Range of Motion in Your Neck

girafe réticulée 06Pain and stiffness can significantly reduce your neck’s range of motion. Although a decreased range of motion in your neck may not seem like a major problem, it can actually contribute to a number of unpleasant conditions, including headache, fatigue, irritability and sleep loss. Like any other part of the body, our neck can become stronger and more flexible through exercise. Following are some useful exercises that can help to increase the range of motion in your neck.

All these exercises should be done while sitting comfortably in a chair with your feet flat on the floor and your neck in a neutral position. Your neck should be positioned right above your spine (in other words, be sure your head is not jutting forward or back), and you should be looking straight ahead. If you feel pain (rather than just discomfort) while doing any of these exercises, stop immediately and do not resume them until you have consulted with your chiropractor.

1) Neck rotations – Keeping your head level, gradually turn your head to the right as far as you comfortably can, looking over your right shoulder, and hold for 10 seconds. Then slowly turn your head to the left, looking over your left shoulder, and hold for another 10 seconds. Repeat 5 times.

2) Neck tilts – Tilt your head to the right, bringing your right ear as close to your shoulder as possible, and hold for 10 seconds. Do the same on the other side, tilting your head to the left, again holding for 10 seconds. Repeat 5 times.

3) Neck flexion and extension – This is simply bending your head forward and back. Beginning in a neutral position, gradually bend your head forward, letting it hang with your chin close to your chest, and hold for 10 seconds. Then slowly bring your head up and back so that you are looking at the ceiling. Repeat 5 times.

4) Half circles – Start by tilting your head toward your right shoulder as far as possible, then slowly swing it to the left in a fluid half-circle, moving your head forward and down until your chin is close to your chest, continuing until your head is tilted to the left with your left ear above your left shoulder. Then repeat the movement in the other direction.

5) Levator scapulae stretch – Tilting your head to the right over your shoulder, turn and drop your head slightly so that your nose is pointed toward your elbow, and hold for 10 seconds. You should feel the stretch in the muscle connecting the back of the left lower neck to your shoulder blade. Repeat on the other side.

Can Poor Posture Really Cause Back and Neck Pain?

Can Poor Posture Really Cause Back and Neck Pain?

back-pain-neck-pain-collage-200-300In a word, yes!

Unless your back or neck pain has been caused by some type of over-exertion or acute trauma, it’s actually very likely that poor posture is at least a contributing factor. The alignment of the spine—from the neck through the lower back and hips—is critical to the body’s ability to support its own weight and move efficiently, so posture problems (which are often chronic) can gradually lead to pain and reduced mobility.

When it comes to pain in your back or neck, the relationship between poor posture and injury can also be a complicated one. On the one hand, having poor posture makes it more likely that you will suffer an injury. On the other hand, suffering an injury can also affect your posture. Mary Ann Wilmarth, DPT, spokeswoman for the American Physical Therapy Association explains, “Little things add up. You can increase the pressure on your back by 50% simply by leaning over the sink incorrectly to brush your teeth. Keeping the right amount of curvature in the back takes pressure off the nerves and will reduce back pain.”

How posture problems contribute to neck pain

One of the most common posture problems is a “forward head and shoulder posture”. This occurs when someone “hunches over” and places their head in front of their neck. The weight of the head towards the front stresses the lower neck vertebrae, and leads to overworking of the upper back muscles to compensate for the pull of gravity on the head. Many people with this posture problem also have a rounded upper back and rounded shoulders, which can lead to further stress and shoulder pain. Often, poor desk and chair ergonomics contribute to these problems, but even slouching on the couch or at a table with your mobile phone can lead to hunching over.

How posture problems contribute to back pain

The “forward head” posture described above causes stress on the lower cervical vertebrae, which may end up sliding forward relative to each other as a result of gravity. This is a particular problem for people who have jobs requiring them to look forward or downwards all day. Eventually, the prolonged pressure on the cervical vertebrae will irritate the ligaments and soft tissues, radiating downwards to the upper back. This process can lead to disc degeneration, cervical osteoarthritis and herniated discs.

Tips for improving poor posture and relieving back and neck pain

Poor posture is typically the result of habits that have been developed over long periods of time performing the same activities over and over again. Here are just a few of the most common culprits:

  • Staring at computer monitors or mobile devices that are badly positioned.
  • Sitting in poorly designed office chairs.
  • Sleeping on mattresses that don’t provide the necessary support.
  • Carrying heavy backpacks or purses.

But how do you know which activities are contributing to your poor posture and causing you pain? The clues are usually fairly easy to spot once you know what you’re looking for. For instance, the pain in your neck or back may be worse at some times during the day than at others, or it may come and go with changes in your body position. If you experience fatigue or pain when you first wake up in the morning or after you’ve been sitting at your desk for a couple of hours, it might be time for a new mattress or new office furniture.

The good news is that once you become aware of the activities that are contributing to your posture problems and pain, most can be fixed relatively easily, with no need for either medication or surgery. Learn to recognize when you’re hunching over your computer, slouching in your chair or craning your neck to look at your mobile phone. Then sit up straight, aligning your hips, shoulders and ears in one vertical line.

Sometimes, however, the solution is not so simple—especially when poor posture has caused structural changes in the spine and neck. In these cases, a chiropractor can help by designing posture correction and spinal rehabilitation programs to restore the spine’s normal curvature. These programs will usually involve a combination of mechanical techniques that actively remodel the spine (including the use of braces and molding blocks), exercises and stretches that strengthen postural muscles and restore range of motion, and lifestyle changes to address the root causes.

As experts in diagnosing and treating musculoskeletal conditions, chiropractic physicians are specially trained to recognize and correct postural problems. If you’re suffering from neck or back pain and suspect that your posture may be at least partially to blame, call or visit our office today. We can help!